Textual content by Ranjabati Das
I stroll into the banquet corridor of a suburban lodge the place I’m scheduled to satisfy the actor and cleanly miss her. It wouldn’t be uncommon to seek out her nose-deep in a guide. However at present she’s sitting by herself and, like most of us, appears comfortable to be quietly tinkering together with her smartphone to maintain herself occupied. There isn’t any entourage or the have to be the cynosure of all eyes, an anomaly in Tinseltown, the place each are as widespread because the widespread chilly.
Kajol has acted in lower than 40 movies in her 26-year-long profession. And she or he took her first sabbatical publish Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (2001), lower than a decade into her profession, by no means returning to full-timing since. However despite the fact that consideration spans have solely gotten shorter over this time — it’s right down to eight seconds, in accordance with present stats — Kajol continues to be in demand, going by her numerous model endorsements and journal covers. And taking a look at her monitor report, she is going to stay related regardless of how her movie fares and regardless of the sabbatical that’s in all probability headed our means as soon as she winds up the promotional actions for her newest, Helicopter Eela, her eighth critical enterprise within the final 17 years —11 of which have seen her resolutely lacking in motion.
What retains you related immediately, I ask her. “I think it’s because I haven’t done that many films honestly. It’s the scarcity more than anything else,” she says flippantly with that infectious snicker, throwing me off together with her modesty in the direction of her life’s work. Helmed by Pradeep Sarkar, Helicopter Eela is centred round a mother-son relationship, with Kajol enjoying Eela, the eponymous single mom to 20-year-old Nationwide Award profitable actor Riddhi Sen, who will make his Bollywood debut with this movie. The story follows Eela, a helicopter mother in each facet, as she units out on a journey of self-discovery after being urged by her son Vivan (Sen) to provide you with a plan for herself, a plan B so to talk and ideally one which doesn’t contain him. “It’s a single-parent setup, so both the parent and the child know that there’s nobody else to turn to in any given situation; even for the smallest of things, like if a bulb has to be changed at 3 in the morning. There is no third person here, just this team of two. So, the bond is really tight, and they are almost like friends. The child also grows up a little faster,” Kajol says, decoding the Eela-Vivan dynamic.
Was she, like most youngsters, rebellious as an adolescent, I ask her. “When I was 12, my mom told me that she was going to believe that she brought me up well and have faith in her upbringing, and although I may have rebelled against everyone around me, I never rebelled against my mom.” Simply as on display, her eyes do a variety of the speaking. She strikes me as somebody who doesn’t take herself or her superstar too critically. It’s the primary time shortly that she is doing a robust female-led movie, with a co-star however sans hero, virtually carrying the movie on her shoulders. She disagrees with a disarming frankness. “Honestly, it’s never about one character. That would be a monologue, not a film.” What she believes in, she is going to give her all to and attempt to excel in, whether or not it’s a movie position or her real-life roles. So it makes good sense when she later tells me that she hasn’t executed any regional cinema but as a result of she believed she would have a language situation, an element that might forestall her from giving her greatest to a movie. “VIP (2016’s Velaiilla Pattadhari 2) really broke that myth in my head and now I’m open to doing films in other languages.”
We’ve had movies grappling with id, principally submit breakups — Queen (2014), Pricey Zindagi (2015) — however are scripts revolving round older ladies, say, a mom of a youngster, the brand new development in Bollywood? “Actually it’s not a new topic, it is just told differently. It is narrated with a lot of humour, in a normal casual way and somewhere down the line you realise, ‘Shit, I agree with this.’ Something rings true and I hope when you come out of the hall, maybe you will like your parents a little more and maybe they will like you a little more. Parents may not necessarily always like their child’s behaviour and vice versa. Our tolerance levels are low today and not just with people we are related to. I hope this film will get us to look at those we are living with and even those around us with a bit of kindness.”
The dialog naturally results in social media and selfies, filters, the narcissism it breeds and the unrealistic requirements we set for ourselves that nearly set us up for disappointment. “There is so much pressure today…” I begin. “…to be perfect,” she finishes. Then: “You know I like my privacy and it was actually my daughter who said I must join social media. She gave me a 15-minute crash course on brand building and all of that. She was 13 at that point! ‘Look at Beyoncé’s social media!’ she would say. And I would be like, ‘So, that’s not going to happen in this lifetime, babe!’” It strikes me that Kajol has all the time been #NoFilter personified, ages earlier than it turned a factor on Instagram as a solution to fight social media nervousness, a licensed dysfunction that has exerted its vice-like grip over many. She’s the one star who by no means cared about diplomacy or doing what the script demanded of the heroine if it didn’t make sense to her. “I think it takes up too much effort to filter my thoughts and I don’t see the need for it. I’m too lazy to fake it,” she cracks up.
‘Intimidating’ and ‘blunt’ are phrases which were used liberally to explain her; but I’m unable to find that individual. I discover her skilled — she’s punctual, truly arriving earlier than the scheduled time — and genuine. It’s a humorous factor, authenticity, I feel as I look into these eyes able to magic. Nonconforming by nature, it may be a double-edged sword, particularly when it belongs to a lady in a person’s world. “I don’t think anybody wishes me harm. Yes, there are some who are going to have an opinion regardless of what you do. So I figured I just need to be as true and connected to myself as I can be. If you’re honest to the person in front of you, that person will also give you honesty back. I think it’s just easier that way.”
And it’s with this readability that Kajol operates in her numerous spheres, whether or not it’s at work the place she has persistently damaged moulds or her personal life for which she virtually walked away from a glittering profession with no second’s hesitation. “I’ve pretty much done whatever I’ve felt like doing and I’ve done it when I’ve felt it to be the right time to do it. When I felt like I should get married, I did. When I felt it was the right time to have kids — not because of how old I was but because I felt ready — I did. I think as long as you’re not hurting anybody you need to stand up and take the call you need to take despite the fact that everyone has an opinion about how you’re doing it and whether you’re doing it right, especially people who love you (laughs). They may be difficult calls and not necessary popular ones but you have to stick to your guns and work through it. If you’ve made a mistake, you’ve made a mistake. Face that.” Easy however sound logic. I’m wondering if the character she essays, Eela, can also be rooted and resilient like her. “Partly, in the way she blindly loves her son. I’m totally mad about my children. I do keep track of my kids and I do keep an eye on them but when you watch the film you will realise that Eela is just a little bit over the top — she is OCD, overanxious, over hyper. The title comes from the social media hashtag #HelicopterMom. That’s who she is, but somehow you forgive her for spying on Vivan, for checking his phone and generally making a nuisance of herself, because everything she does stems from love.” So has she ever checked her youngsters’ telephones, I ask. “I’ve thought about it!” she jokes. “I’ve actually planned it out but haven’t carried through with it…yet! My daughter would just blast off like a rocket or something if I did that. But I’ve taught my kids well and if they make mistakes, that’s okay, I am here to guide them and hold their hand along the way. But children do need to stumble and fall and learn, and I’ll give them that opportunity as well.”
Being a mother or father feels like probably the most formidable job, which makes me ponder whether everyone seems to be minimize out for it. Are there any conditions or traits that serve one properly? “Even I had this question about how to be the perfect mom, but to all kids their parents are perfect no matter what they are like and they would never trade their parents for others, even if they can’t, for example, cook. Parenthood is an on-the-job process and I don’t think anybody is ever ready. It’s just something that’s thrust on you. There is no manual for it and nobody is going to tell you what to do. You get the shittiest, weirdest advice when you become a parent. And it’s tough being a parent – I wouldn’t want to say that this is applicable to mothers only — especially when you have to do something that is not comfortable for you but is in your child’s best interest. Or when you have to correct them and play bad cop — but you have to take responsibility and do it. Being an adult in the relationship all the time is really difficult. Love your child and do what is best for him or her and you can never go wrong.” After which she corrects herself, “Not ‘never’, but you won’t be wrong most of the time”.
Later I see her getting ready for a TV interview; her hair and make-up artists are fussing round her and I catch her rolling her eyes in a good-natured means. So are you happening a break once more, I had probed earlier than parting methods though I already knew the reply. “I feel like I’ve been on a mental treadmill since January 1st [when she started working on the film] and have had no time at all,” she had replied. “I don’t think I’ll see anybody or do anything at all for a while and I can’t wait!”